PORK, APPLE AND ONION COUSCOUS BOWL

I consume most of my meals out of bowls. I have an entire shelf filled with all my favorite bowls. I go through multiple bowls in a day. BOWLS. BOWLS. BOWLS. [!] When I’m having a meal by myself, I like to curl up on the couch underneath a blanket, grab a bowl of goodness and catch up on my latest tv addiction [currently it’s the latest season of Top Chef].

Some meals aren’t really meant for bowl eating, so I have to change up the way I prepare and present it to make it more couch consuming friendly. One of my go to winter dishes is pork with apples and onions. It’s a warm, comforting, filling respite from a cold night [and right now the nights are unusually cold for Texas!]. Normally, I serve pork cutlets whole with thickly sliced onions and apples and roasted sweet potatoes.

This version doesn’t require a fork and knife to consume [just a fork, or spoon if that’s more your thing]. It’s got all the same winter flavors, only served up on a bed of rosemary and sage couscous. It’s a simple dish that can be quickly pulled together for a weeknight meal. Grab your favorite bowl, fill it up with tasty goodness and put on your current tv obsession.

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PORK, APPLE AND ONION COUSCOUS BOWL

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 thin sliced boneless pork chops

  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 red apple [I prefer a firm fuji or gala], diced

  • Green onions, thinly sliced

  • 2 TB apple cider vinegar

  • 3 TB olive oil

  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced

  • 1 tsp fresh sage, minced

  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

  • 1 cup couscous

  • 1 1/4 cup water

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, take 1 TB of apple cider vinegar and pour over the pork chops. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coast. Set aside. Add the onions to the pan with 1 TB olive oil and sauté on medium until golden [3-5 minutes]

Meanwhile in a small saucepan heat 1 TB olive oil on medium, adding the herbs and cooking for a minute. Add the water and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover and remove from heat. To the pan with onions, add the chopped apple and sauté on medium for 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1 TB of vinegar and stir until the vinegar cooks off. Remove the apples and onions from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 TB olive oil on medium. Pat the pork chops dry and add to the pan, cooking 3 minutes per side. Remove the chops, allow them to sit for 2 minutes and then chop into small bites. Fluff the couscous with a fork and season with salt and pepper.

Add the couscous to a serving bowl and top with pork, apples and onions. Garnish with green onions. [This looks great in a heaping serving bowl, but I typically plate it directly in my individual bowl, again for the tv watching ease of this meal!].

Serves 4-5 [or 2 really hungry people]

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BEST AVOCADO BROWNIES RECIPE

WARNING: these are NOT healthy brownies. Yes, as the title suggests, they have avocado in them which would make you think this is a recipe that’s lighter and somehow better for you. I’m pretty sure they’re not. They’ve got butter, they’ve got sugar. They’re decadent, luscious and are a game changer when served with your favorite vanilla bean ice cream [mine is and always will be Breyers Natural Vanilla, FYI].

Now I did just say these are not healthy brownies. But there are some healthy benefits to this specific recipe and that’s mostly found in the form of chocolate I use. I make mine with 100% natural cacao powder I use this specific brand, but any cacao will do. Personally, I can tell a real difference between cacao and cocoa. You can read more on what makes these two products different here, but basically I find cacao to be a richer, deeper flavor profile than traditional cocoa powder. [unless you can find the seriously good cocoa powders out there, which are hard to come by and sometimes pricey]. Plus, it’s got loads of great health benefits since it’s not processed the way cocoa is, so not a bad thing to try out I’d say!

The avocado I find does a phenomenal job in creating that moist [yes, I know most of us hate this word, especially when creepily whispered, but sometimes it needs to be used!] consistency to the brownie. I do plan to experiment more with removing more butter and adding more avocado to the ratio to see how ‘healthy’ I can get these bad boys without them becoming strange, and if I come up with a version two, I’ll be sure to share it here! Head do the bottom to read the recipe and please share if you make them and what you think!

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BEST AVOCADO BROWNIES

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 cup unsweetened cacao powder

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1.5 cups sugar

  • 2 large eggs at room temperature

  • 1 very ripe avocado mashed

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2-3 tbsp coffee or espresso [not the ground, but the already made stuff!]

  • 1 stick unsalted butter softened

  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate chips

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts [optional]

Preheat to 325F

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer. Blend in the eggs, avocado, vanilla and coffee. In a separate bowl combine the flour, cacao, baking soda and salt. Add the dry to the wet mixture and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans (you can reserve a small handful to dot the top of the brownies). 

Bake in a greased 8x8 baking dish for 50 minutes to an hour. I prefer them gooey and a little under so you can adjust the cooking time to what works for you! Bakes 16 squares

TIP: This recipe doubles well if you’re baking for a crowd, just don’t double your amount of salt [I typically do 3/4tsp for a double batch]

MY SECRET TO THE BEST GREEN APPLE PIE SMOOTHIE

I've never been much of a breakfast person, with the exception of pancakes and bacon on Sunday mornings, or my occasional love affair with an almond croissant [treat yo self sometimes, seriously!]. I will cook and eat eggs a couple times a week, but more often than not, my morning routine involves all things liquid: water, coffee, tea, juice, and varying iterations of smoothies. Most of the time, they taste 'healthy' and lack sweetness. I know, I know, curbing that need for sweets is sort of the point of clean and healthy eating, but sometimes I just want a smoothie that tastes delicious, a smoothie so good it could almost pass for dessert.  Herein lies the magic found in my latest smoothie recipe. It's green. I'm talking wicked witch of the west GREEN, plants on my bookshelves green [as you can see in the photo!], chock full of nutrients and healthy things GREEN.  How did I get this smoothie to be so verdant AND so tasty? Learn my secrets below!

First and foremost, the key to getting that impossibly gorgeous green hue is with an ingredient you may or may not have used before: spirulina. Spirulina is a blue-green algae, which may seem terrifying to put in your food, but I promise this added NO strange taste to this smoothie.  It smells a bit odd out of the jar, but there's absolutely no taste or aftertaste, and that's all I really care about.  I should also mention, once it's blended in with other ingredients, I didn't catch any funny aromas either.  All it does is add amino acids, chlorophyll, essential fatty acids, and vitamins A, E, and B-12 to your smoothie. It has all kinds of health benefits I don't need to write out, since plenty of people have already done the work for me [like Dr. Axe here or Thrive]. I purchased my supply through Thrive Market, which BTW if you're looking to up your healthy eating game, the free trial through Thrive is well worth it. I loved it so much, I went ahead and continued to pay the yearly subscription.  It's like Amazon Prime, but for healthy things!

I did add a couple other green bits to the recipe, but spirulina is essential for completely transforming this otherwise blah-looking smoothie! Plus, did I mention this smoothie tastes like APPLE PIE?! I'd 100% sip on this at the end of the day in lieu of dessert. It's THAT good!

THE BEST GREEN APPLE PIE SMOOTHIE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 teaspoons spirulina powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce [or you can chop up an apple]
  • 8 almonds
  • 2 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp maple syrup [you can always add another if you find you want it a little sweeter!]
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/4 of a frozen banana [I chop mine into quarters and freeze them]
  • 1/2-3/4 cup almond or coconut-almond milk [depends on how liquid-y you prefer your smoothies!]
  • 6 baby spinach leaves
  • 1 kale leaf, stems and any tough parts removed

DIRECTIONS:

  • Blend everything together! [because we're talking about a smoothie here, so that's the extent of the directions!]

MAKES 2 SERVINGS